Santa Clara University

The-Big-Q_Header_4
 
RSS

The Big Q

A dialogue on the big questions college students face. Like The Big Q now on Facebook to stay updated on the latest post and winners.

  •  Crusading at the Dinner Table

    Monday, Aug. 19, 2013

    The best student comment on "Crusading at the Dinner Table" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, September 1st, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

     
    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**


    Towards the end of her senior year of high school, Grace volunteered for a local animal rights organization. Although she was always an animal lover, she had never really considered the issue of animals being raised to be eaten. During her time with the organization, she became passionate about animal rights and became a vegetarian. She was also able to convince her parents to become vegetarians.

    Now a new freshman, Grace faces a dilemma. Everyone around her seems to eat meat. Though the dining hall offers plenty of vegetarian options, she is unhappy about the presence of meat as a constant feature among the offerings.

    Grace isn’t able to put aside her feelings about the suffering of animals. Going by her own experience of having her eyes opened to the cause, Grace is convinced that spreading knowledge about the suffering of farm animals is the only way of converting more people into vegetarians.

    On one hand, she feels she has a duty, when sitting at a table with people who are consuming meat, to express her beliefs. On the other hand, she knows that directly confronting people about their choices tends to alienate them. She would like to establish good relationships and friendships with the people around her, but she would also like to express her beliefs and teach people about her cause. Should Grace confront her friends at the dining table?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    Stand Up, Speak Out: The College Student's Guide to Activism

    Ethics Guide: Eating Animals

     

    Photo by Ben Isacat available under a Creative Commons license.

  •  An Offhand Remark

    Monday, Aug. 5, 2013

    The best student comment on "An Offhand Remark" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, August 18th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

     
    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

    Lindsey and Danielle are new freshman roommates. Although they come from very different backgrounds—Lindsey is from a small town in Minnesota and Danielle is from Los Angeles—they’ve already bonded. The third week of the quarter, Lindsey and Danielle go together to a party. They’re having a great time chatting with some people they’ve just met when Danielle makes a crack about the “chink” who lives on their floor and how she will probably “mess up the curve” in the calculus class they’re taking together because Asians don’t do anything but study. Lindsey is taken aback. She didn’t think Danielle was the type of person who would make such an offensive comment.

    Should Lindsey say something immediately? Should she wait and talk to Danielle in private? Or should she just let the comment go without remarking on it at all?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    One of College's Most Exacting Lessons: Roommates

    College Relationships: Roommate Tips for Dorm Life

    How to Handle a Bad College Roommate

  •  Whose Life is it Anyway?

    Monday, Jul. 22, 2013

    The best student comment on "Whose Life is it Anyway?" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, August 4th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

     
    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
     
    Robert is a sophomore in college majoring in accounting. He has never truly been interested in accounting, however. In fact, Robert is very passionate about filmmaking. Since his early years, he has known that he wants to become a director. He is only majoring in accounting at his parent’s wishes.
     
    Robert’s parents are paying for his college, and as a result, he finds himself in a very difficult situation. Since his parents are paying for him to be at college, he understands why they should have some say in his major. At the same time, however, Robert believes that majoring in accounting is a huge waste of time for him, because in the future he knows he doesn’t want anything to do with accounting. 
     
    Since Robert is not interested in accounting, his grades have recently suffered. While his parents stress the importance of getting a high GPA, he has been stuck in the 3.2 range throughout college.
     
    Robert has just gotten his grades back for the spring quarter and he got a 3.1. His parents are upset that he was unable to get better grades. They insist that he can do better and that there is no reason why he isn’t doing so.
     
    Robert finally strikes up the courage to tell his parents that he never wants to become an accountant. He tells them that he wants to become a filmmaker. Robert’s parents tell him this is an impractical dream of his. It should be a hobby not a career path. They insist that he stays in accounting and tell him that if he doesn’t start getting better grades his future is in trouble.
     
    Many parents want to be involved in their child’s college education, especially when they are paying the bills. When is this desire to be involved reasonable guidance and when does it become intrusion? If students are 18 and adults, shouldn’t they be given freedom to be responsible for their own actions? Does Robert’s father have a right to feel upset about his low son’s low GPA? Should he be allowed to decide Robert’s major? What should Robert do?

    Useful Resources: 
     

    Choosing a Major in College: Do Parents Get a Say?

  •  Homework or Teamwork?

    Monday, Jul. 8, 2013

    The best student comment on "Homework or Teamwork" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, July 21th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

    Kim was a star soccer player in high school and hopes to continue playing in college. The college she will be attending has Division III women’s soccer, and the coach is anxious for Kim to join the team.

    However, her college is also very challenging academically. She’s heard from some people on the team that, especially during the season, it’s better to take easier classes so you can go to practices and games, and also get your work done without stressing. Kim doesn’t feel comfortable following this advice because she really chose her college because of its strong academic reputation. On the other hand, she doesn’t want to settle for intramural soccer, which she thinks won’t allow her to play up to her potential.

    What role should sports play in Kim’s college life?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    Grading College Athletes

    College Athletes: Academic Performance: Behind the Line on Grades

     

    Photo by Jeremy Wilburn available under a Creative Commons license.

  •  Home Sweet Home

    Friday, Jun. 21, 2013

    The best student comment on "Home Sweet Home" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, July 7th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

    After a long, tough finals week, Sophia has completed her freshman year of college. She can’t believe how fast the year went. She made many new friends and experienced the freedom of independence, living away from her parents for the first time in her life. Now, it’s summer break, and Sophia is returning home to work for a local restaurant. All she wants to do during break is work, go to the gym, and hang out with her old high school friends.

    Sophia’s parents are very strict and like to know where she is at all times. They also enjoy having her at home to spend time with the family, and stress the importance of academics and getting good grades. In high school, Sophia often had to stay home at nights when her friends were getting together. When Sophia was allowed out, she had to return home before her parents went to bed at midnight.

    Sophia has gotten used to the freedom of college, however. She’s 19 now, after all. She enjoys being spontaneous, making her own choices, not having to report her coordinates to her parents at all times, and staying out late. That being said, she has still been able to maintain over a 3.7 cumulative GPA in her first year at college.

    Several days after returning home for break, Sophia’s best friend from high school decides to host a reunion party. Sophia works from 10am to 4pm at the restaurant, heads to the gym, and makes it home in time for dinner at 6pm.

    At the dinner table, Sophia tells her parents she is going to the reunion party in a couple of hours. While Sophia loves to be spontaneous, her parents love to schedule out their plans well ahead of time. They inform Sophia that they’ve planned a family night and that she needs to be home to spend time with her two younger siblings.

    Conversation turns into argument. Sophia claims she is independent now and can make her own decisions. Her parents state that while she is still living under their roof, she needs to listen to their judgment. They stress they are not being the “fun police,” but are emphasizing family values. If Sophia would have told them ahead of time, they claim they would have let her go. 

    Sophia pretends to go to bed upset and sneaks out to go to the party.

    Should Sophia have snuck out to go to the party? Have you ever snuck out from home? Is Sophia independent? Should she be able to make her own decisions at home? Is it fair for Sophia’s parents to ask her to plan ahead of time, or should she be allowed to continue her spontaneous nature? Is there a point of compromise?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    Social Intelligence: Returning Home from College for the Summer

     

  •  Congratulations Graduates!

    Tuesday, Jun. 18, 2013

     The Big Q sends best wishes to all students who graduated in 2013 and wishes a great summer to everyone who will be returning to school in the fall.  We will be taking a week off, but will be back with more contests and cases soon.

  •  One Fish, Two Fish

    Monday, Jun. 3, 2013
    The best student comment on "One Fish, Two Fish" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, June 16th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates. 
    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
     
    College freshmen Josh and David live together in an on-campus dorm. They share a communal bathroom with two other students. Halfway through the school year, Josh begins to notice that David takes unusually long showers. With each passing week, David’s showers have increased to 45 minutes each and every day.
    Josh knows that running water ultimately goes down the drain and into the sewers. Of course, everyone just assumes there will be more available the next day. However, Josh realizes that David is consuming huge amounts of water as well as enormous amounts of energy.
     
    Bothered by David’s actions, Josh talks to David and calmly points out that his water and energy consumption is not good for the environment, as well as being extremely expensive. David, however, doesn’t see it that way and replies with, “Whatever. I just pay for room and board. I don’t pay for the utilities. That shouldn’t be my problem.”
     
    This is a common problem among college students living in dorms. Since the bills don’t go directly to students, it is easy for them to lose track of how much they are actually using and assume that water and energy are unlimited resources. If David actually saw how much water he was using and paid the bill himself, he might think differently and be inclined to reduce his water consumption.  But because he pays only a flat rate for room and board, he feels it is not his concern and that he can use as much energy as he likes without a second thought.
     
    How can a university encourage students like David to be more environmentally conscious of their water consumption when students do not pay for utilities directly? How can students hold each other accountable for being responsible about their individual water and energy consumption? What incentives could there be for students to care about how much water and energy they use other than the fact that it can cost more money?
     
    Useful Links:
     
     
     
     
     
    Photo available under a Creative Commons License on Flickr from Joost Nelissen.
  •  Making the Cut

    Monday, May. 20, 2013

    The best student comment on "Making the Cut" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, June 2nd, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates. 

    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

    Patrick and Lindsey are best friends, and as their senior year of high school begins, they are anxious to look at colleges and begin the application process. Patrick has always been an athlete: while he tries hard in school, his main focus has always been becoming captain of the football team, which results in his grades being below average. On the other hand, Lindsey is a straight-A student who consistently takes AP and Honors courses, is student body president, and has an impressive list of a variety of extracurricular actives.

    The academic disparity between Patrick and Lindsey has never caused an issue with their friendship in the past, but in applying to colleges Lindsey seems to think she has an advantage and will not stop bragging about what great schools she will be accepted to. As the year progresses, Lindsey submits many college applications, including some to the top universities in the country, and spends many grueling hours a week perfecting each application and essay. On the other hand, Patrick has yet to submit any applications despite the deadlines approaching, because he is too busy practicing his football skills, going to the gym, and visiting the trainer before and after school. Lindsey reminds Patrick of how difficult the applicant pool will be this year and advises Patrick to start on his applications, particularly because he is already at a disadvantage with a low GPA.

    Several days later, Patrick and Lindsey’s high school has a football game against their biggest rival. The stadium is filled, and scouts are scattered among the bleachers. Patrick makes one amazing play after another and leads the team to victory. Several days later Patrick receives a recruiting call from one of the top colleges Lindsey has applied to, and he is offered a full ride scholarship to play college football. Thrilled, Patrick verbally commits and plans are made to sign the official papers.

    Being a good friend, Lindsey is happy for Patrick, but can't help feeling anxious about her own college prospects. Later that week, Lindsey receives multiple denial letters, one of which is from the college Patrick has just committed to, and Lindsey is now overcome with resentment.

    Should athletes (such as Patrick) be held to the same academic standards of the general applicant pool (which Lindsey was part of)? Is it possible or even realistic for athletes to take advanced courses and put as much time into studying for school as non-athletes when athletes have practices, games, travel, and tournaments? Should the practice and dedication Patrick put into football be considered equivalent to Lindsey’s efforts in the classroom?

    Useful Resources

    Grading College Athletes 

    College Athletes: Academic Performance: Behind the Line on Grades

    College Athletics: Necessary, Not Just Nice to Have

     

    Photo by Jamie Williams available under a Creative Commons license.
     
  •  Insta-Interruption

    Thursday, May. 9, 2013
    The best student comment on "Insta-Interruption" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, May 19th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates. 
     
    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
     
    Beth and Katie have been friends throughout college, but their busy schedules have kept them from spending a lot of quality time together recently. They finally find a time to meet for lunch, and both girls are excited to catch up.
     
    When their food arrives, Katie exclaims, “Oh, this looks so good—I have to Instagram this!” Beth laughs and checks her Facebook notifications while her friend takes a picture and chooses just the right filter. Together, they deliberate over which hashtags perfectly encapsulate the finished creation, and Beth finally posts it 10 minutes later. They both put their phones down and continue their conversation, but Katie keeps receiving comments and “likes” on the Instagram picture of their lunch, so she keeps checking her phone. Beth gets a text from a classmate about a group project, and she spends about 5 minutes texting back and forth to schedule a meeting time for later in the evening. The dialogue between the two women is, therefore, sprinkled with long pauses as they get distracted by their devices.
     
    At the end of their lunch, Beth and Katie hug each other and promise to see each other again soon. On the way to her car, Beth stops to take a picture of a rose that she sees so that she can Instagram it later, and Katie tags Beth in a Facebook status: “Love catching up with old friends in the sunshine!”
     
    Does this sound familiar to you? Do you interrupt your face-to-face interactions with social media platforms or text messages to people who aren’t there? Do your friends do that to you? Do you think that these kinds of interactions negatively affect friendships, or are they just a natural part of an increasingly technology-dependent society? Do you feel the need to report on everything you’re doing during the day via social media? Do you think this enhances or devalues friendships?
     
     
    Useful Resources
     
     
     
     

      

  •  A Tale of Two Cheaters

    Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2013
    The best student comment on "A Tale of Two Cheaters" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, May 5th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates. 
     
    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
     
    Rebecca is a freshman this year, and the transition from high school to college has been pretty academically difficult for her. She has always been an excellent student, however, so she takes the challenge in stride.
     
    After turning in a final paper for one of her English classes, Rebecca receives an e-mail from her professor informing her that she has failed the class. Rebecca can’t believe it—perhaps she put less effort into this paper than her others, but she certainly didn’t produce F-quality work! She immediately responds and asks why. Her professor informs Rebecca that she had included a paragraph in her paper that was copied and pasted verbatim from an online source, and that Rebecca had failed to provide a citation. The professor then refers Rebecca to the section on academic integrity in the course syllabus, which clearly states that any student found plagiarizing will fail the course.
     
    At the same university that week, Nick wraps up his first round of sophomore year exams. He’s thrilled to be heading home for break after an extremely tough quarter, and is pretty happy with his grades as they begin showing up online. However, he notices he received a C in a class that he was expecting a solid A in, and e-mails his professor to ask why. His professor responds that she found several instances of plagiarism in his final paper, so he failed his final assignment, and that affected his final grade. She also notes that this is consistent with her policy on academic integrity as stated in her syllabus.
     
    Ultimately, for similar acts of plagiarism at the same school, Rebecca and Nick suffer very different consequences. Rebecca fails a course, while Nick fails a final paper. Is this fair?  Should schools force faculty to have the same policy about plagiarism across the board, or should it be up to the faculty’s discretion?  What would be a fair punishment?
     
    Useful Resources